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Succulent Greek Chicken Souvlaki Recipe

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Prepare to be seduced by the mouthwatering succulence of a Greek fast food classic with our chicken souvlaki recipe, and enjoy this marinaded chicken dish with freshly chopped vegetables on a skewer, wrapped in pita, and in plenty of other delicious ways.

Souvlaki in Pitas with Tomatoes and Red Onions.

Souvlaki Recipe

You are in for quite the ride with this utterly indulgent chicken souvlaki wrap. Every mouthful delivers a glorious combination of juicy skewered chicken, refreshingly creamy tzatziki, crunchy onion, sweet tomato, and warm, fluffy pita bread. It’s perfect for Greek night, barbecues on the patio, al fresco dining, and so much more!

Souvlaki in Pitas with Tomatoes and Red Onions and Tzatziki Sauce.

What is Traditional Souvlaki?

A dish deeply rooted in ancient Greek culture, souvlaki today is one of the country’s most yearned for fast foods. In essence, souvlaki is a dish of grilled skewered meat, traditionally pork but with lamb, chicken, and beef souvlaki also available, especially outside of Greece.

Evidence of skewers held between pairs of stone supports in Greece date back to around 2000 BC, while ceramic ‘souvlaki trays’, which it is believed were placed underneath the skewers, have been traced back as far as the Iron Age. Hence, it’s fair to say that Greeks have been feasting on skewered meat for a long, long time!

You won’t have to wander far in Greece to hear the sizzle of juicy meat over a hot grill, and whether you order the skewer straight off the heat, with grilled vegetables, inside a pita, or with a range of sides (see below), there is no denying the importance this dish has on both Greek cuisine and culture.

Variations

Meat – Our recipe calls for chicken, and we recommend using chicken specifically for this recipe. However, as mentioned above, pork is the typical choice in both Greece and Cyprus for souvlaki, with lamb, beef, and other meats like ox also common choices for souvlaki.

Grilled Vegetables – Souvlaki is often eaten as just meat on a skewer, but some places will give you the option to order it with grilled vegetables. These vegetables include the likes of bell peppers, onion, tomato, mushrooms, and plenty of others.

Souvlaki-Pita – We have featured souvlaki-pita in our recipe, which generally consists of souvlaki meat wrapped in a pita bread, with tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced onions, wrapped in foil or paper to be taken to go. In Greece, you can usually order a side of fried potatoes or fries with it, and some vendors will even put them inside the wrap for you.

While we have stayed true to the classic souvlaki-pita, some regions of Greece, when using chicken, will use lettuce and mustard instead of onion and tzatziki.

Souvlaki-Merida – Meaning ‘souvlaki portion’, souvlaki-merida is more so what you would order in a restaurant, rather than from a food vendor. This dish is essentially a deconstructed souvlaki-pita on a plate, consisting of the souvlaki meat on the skewer, grilled vegetables, tomatoes, onion, fried potatoes or fries, and pita bread.

Kalamaki – For reference, especially in Athens, the word souvlaki can be used as a blanket term for any type of pita wrap. Thus, you may hear the word kalamaki, meaning “small reed,” which is often referring to a skewer, and as an extension, the skewered meat dish we know as souvlaki. This is only in certain parts of Greece, however.

Recipe Ingredients

To make our chicken souvlaki, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Note: Makes 12 skewers

For the Chicken

Souvlaki chicken marinade ingredients
  • Chicken Thighs (Boneless and Skinless) or Chicken Breasts – 2 lb (900 grams)
  • Olive Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Greek Yogurt – 2 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice – zest and juice from 1 lemon (3 tbsp)
  • Garlic Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Oregano – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp

To Serve

Ingredients to serve with the chicken souvlaki
  • Pitas – 6
  • Tomato – 2-3 tomatoes
  • Red Onion – 1 small red onion
  • Tzatziki – 1 cup tzatziki (see our homemade tzaziki recipe)
  • Bamboo Skewers – 12

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Dice the chicken into cubes of about 1 inch.

Souvlaki step-by-step (diced chicken).

Step 2 – Add the dried seasonings to the chicken (salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder) and mix.

Souvlaki step-by-step (adding dried seasonings).
Souvlaki step-by-step (mixed in the dried seasonings).

Step 3 – Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil and mix well.

Souvlaki step-by-step (adding olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and yogurt).
Souvlaki step-by-step (mixed in all the chicken marinade ingredients).

Step 4 – Cover with cling film and leave the chicken to marinate for about 25-30 minutes.

Souvlaki step-by-step (mixed in all the chicken marinade ingredients and covered with cling film).

Step 5 – Soak the skewers in water.

Souvlaki step-by-step (soaking the bamboo skewers in water).

Step 6 – Thread the chicken on the skewers.

Souvlaki step-by-step (chicken on skewers).

Step 7 – Cook the chicken skewers, preferably on an outdoor grill. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, cook them on a grill pan or a cast iron pan until fully cooked (for about 15-20 minutes on medium-high until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides). To cook it in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and place the chicken skewers on a rimmed baking pan and into the oven until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (about 20 minutes).

Cooking the chicken skewers.
Cooking chicken skewers with bell pepper and onions on them.

Step 8 – Once the meat has been grilled, place the skewers on a plate or sharing platter, ready to serve to your guests.

Chicken thigh souvlaki

Finished chicken skewers.

Chicken breast souvlaki

Chicken breast skewers

Chicken and roasted bell pepper and red onion souvlaki

Chicken skewers with veggies

Step 9 – For the souvlaki pita, chop the onion and tomato.

Slicing the tomatoes and red onions.

Step 10 – Warm up the pita (either in a pan or in the oven) for 1-2 minutes. Optionally, drizzle some olive oil on it.

Step 11 – Lay down some foil and place a pita on top. Add a layer of tzatziki sauce, then chicken souvlaki, sliced tomatoes, and sliced red onion on top.

Pita bread with tzatziki
Adding the chicken to the pita with tzatziki
Adding tomatoes and red onions to the pita with chicken and tzatziki

Step 12 – Wrap it up in foil and serve.

Wrapping the souvlaki pita.

Get ready for a juicy, creamy, crunchy, and truly delicious wrap that everyone can enjoy with so many different sides.

Souvlaki pita

Serving Suggestions

The possibilities really are endless with souvlaki, as there are so many sides and additional foods you can enjoy with the grilled meat.

Souvlaki pita

In our recipe, we have covered how to serve souvlaki on the skewer, and as souvlaki-pita, wrapped in pita bread with tzatziki and chopped vegetables. To keep things traditional, here are a few more suggestions for your Greek-themed dinner or gathering.

Fried potatoes – As we spoke about earlier, fried potatoes or fries are often ordered with souvlaki, no matter what style, be it on the skewer, in pita bread, or open-style on a plate.

Tzatziki – Both to spread in your pita and as a side for dipping, while you could get some store-bought tzatziki for your gathering, our creamy tzatziki recipe will give you everything you need to make this beloved Greek dish at home.

Tirokafteri – This popular Greek feta dip, in a similar way to tzatziki, can compliment the pita and meat with its rich, salty flavor and cold, creamy texture.

Olivier Salad – A potato salad, and in Greece, particularly an earthy and creamy chilled Olivier salad, is a favorite go-to side to enjoy with pita, souvlaki meat, chopped vegetables, and fries.

Horiatiki Salad – Green salads are a light, refreshing side to balance the heat and density of the meat, and few salads come more Greek than horiatiki salad, complete with olives and an olive-oil drizzled slab of crumbly feta cheese.

Souvlaki pita

Souvlaki Recipe Card

Chicken Souvlaki

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Author: Nomad Paradise
Course: Mains
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 12 skewers

Ingredients

For the Chicken & Marinade:

  • 2 lb 900 grams chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) or chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon ~3 tbsp juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

To Serve:

  • 6 pitas
  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 cup tzatziki
  • 12 bamboo skewers

Instructions

  • Dice the chicken into cubes of about 1 inch.
  • Add the dried seasonings to the chicken (salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder) and mix.
  • Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and olive oil to the chicken, and mix well.
  • Cover with cling film and leave the chicken to marinate for about 25-30 minutes.
  • Soak the skewers in water while waiting on the chicken to marinate.
  • Thread the chicken on the skewers.
  • Cook the chicken skewers, preferably on an outdoor grill. If you don't have an outdoor grill, cook them on a grill pan or a cast iron pan until fully cooked (for about 15-20 minutes on medium-high until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides). To cook it in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and place the chicken skewers on a rimmed baking pan and into the oven until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (about 20 minutes).
  • Once the chicken has been grilled, place the skewers on a plate or sharing platter, ready to serve to your guests.
  • Slice the onions and tomatoes.
  • Warm up the pita (either in a pan or in the oven) for 1-2 minutes. Optionally, drizzle some olive oil on it.
  • Lay down some foil and place a pita on top. Add a layer of tzatziki sauce, then chicken souvlaki, sliced tomatoes, and sliced red onion on top.
  • Wrap it up in foil and serve. Get ready for a juicy, creamy, crunchy, and truly delicious wrap that everyone can enjoy with so many different sides.

Recipe Notes

For homemade tzatziki sauce, see our tzatziki recipe (which only takes 15 minutes to make).
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

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Souvlaki pita

Authors

  • Doina Johnson is a recipe developer and writer. Doina has been cooking for most of her life, and her style draws from many different influences. She cooked with her mother and grandma growing up in Eastern Europe, before adding modern, western influences to her style when living in the United States for about a decade. Then, she traveled full-time for several years, trying food in Europe, Asia, and South America, and bringing those influences into her own cooking. She strives to introduce passionate homecooks to world cuisine, generally by trying the food herself abroad and then recreating it at home and, at times, enlisting the help of local foodies and chefs.

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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Recipe Rating




C. Y. Humphrey

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

Did it. It was fantastic! Easy, Tasty, & Healthy.